Friday, August 31, 2012

Are These My Choices?

I don't think I recall a time when our nation was more divided and hateful toward different opinions than it is now. I look at our current list of candidates for the highest position in the land and ask myself...are these the best choices the two main parties could have named? It seems the candidates are so polarizing. There was a Presidential election many years back where I abstained from voting, because I just couldn't in good conscience vote for either candidate. That's how I'm feeling again right now. I don't want to settle for the "lesser of two evils", but I really don't see the problems in our country getting any better with either candidate. We'll still be a country divided with people not willing to find the middle ground.

I know how I'll probably vote. I'm just not sure I'm very happy about it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Choosing Forgiveness

Why God? Why do you have to teach me this lesson AGAIN!?! Just when I think I have it figured out...that monster of bitterness and anger shows his ugly head again.

I thought in leaving my job for a time that I could leave certain people as well. The problem...they still have a hold on me. I'm still angry. I'm hurt. I don't want to give it up...they've wronged me and they deserve to pay.

Wait up there, Alaina. What about you? What do you deserve, if you're really honest? And yet Christ didn't hold a grudge against you.

I know it's tired and cliched...but it's also true. When I choose not to forgive, it's like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I need to trust God to deal with the people who have mistreated me...and I need to offer them grace and forgiveness. (That doesn't necessarily mean opening myself up to be wounded again. Then again, it might if that's what God desires.)

I'm working my way through the book "Choosing Forgiveness" again by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's not a pleasant read. In fact...I'm kind of stalling. But I know that my heart needs this. I will never be able to move on from this past year until I let God sift out some of the hurts and thorns that keep my heart from healing.

And that person who I've allowed to keep opening old wounds...whose voice of LIES keeps echoing in my head...I give you back to God. Again. And again. And again. I pray that whatever hurts may be causing your heart to crush those around you...that the Lord would wrap that heart in His gentle hands and allow you to heal. I won't let your words and criticism and condescension rule my thoughts and heart anymore. I release you.


And again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August Project #3 - The Menu Board

I love digital scrapbooking! I love cooking. And recently, I've rediscovered how much I enjoy having a plan so we're not scrambling at dinner time. I've found some ideas for menu boards I like, but nothing really jumped out at me. So...I made my own design.

I started with a scrap board from a local lumber store. I spray-painted it with Rustoleum's chalkboard paint. I also sacrificed 7 clothespins from my stash and spray-painted them red.

For the last 2 months, I've been tracking the meals we're eating and making a 3x5 card for each meal.

 Because I'm printing them on card stock, I'm not laminating them. The exception is my one blank card for "on the go" nights. I put a clear sheet of Contact paper over the top so we can write the name of a favorite location with a dry-erase marker. (No political commentary on our restaurant of choice this week, please.)

And every mom needs a night where Daddy can be the dinner hero and pick up a pizza or some Chinese take-out on the way home.
When Dan was growing up, he never knew what leftover night was. Because his brilliant mom always called it "International Family Buffet." Sounds fancy, doesn't it?

I'm liking this poppy scrapbook kit so much, I'm thinking about going with a red poppy theme when we finally get around to doing our kitchen.
 Years ago, Dan found me this sweet little piggy index card holder. It's been sitting empty waiting for just the right time. Well...sweet piggy...the time is now.
 Again, using my digital scrapbook program, I made recipe dividers and printed them on card stock. (Aren't those poppies fun?)
I'll keep adding cards to the box as we plan more meals. I'll also start penciling in the source for the recipe on the back, along with page number. We've also been keeping a binder of printouts of favorite recipes we find online.

Planning meals is getting to be a lot more fun!

August Project #2 - Can-a-pa-looza

Canning, canning, canning! It's been years since I've really done this. Usually the garden comes into its own about the time school starts. And who has time then? Well now, I do!

We didn't plant a garden this year, but I have been blessed by generous friends who keep giving me great vegetables.

Last week, I spent Monday playing with these gorgeous Romas:

 I've never canned tomato sauce before, and I wasn't quite sure what I was doing, but with the help of my trusty food mill, I was able to prepare and cook down 6 pints of tomato sauce.

 Aren't they pretty? I love the way cans look all shiny and nice, while they sit there and make their happy little "pop pop pop" sounds when you take them out of the water bath.

So on Tuesday, I wondered how I could top my Monday exploits. What's better than tomato sauce? 

That's right...SALSA! Just look at these gorgeous peppers, tomatoes, onion and cilantro! (Only the cilantro was purchased...the rest of the veggies were free!)

The house smelled absolutely heavenly while everything was cooking.

  Into the jars they went. "Pop pop pop" (Doesn't that just make you happy?)

I wonder if I can find some more tomatoes for pizza sauce now? Maybe some more cukes to make pickles?

August Project #1 - Wall Art

I know, I know...Pinterest can be a HUGE waste of time. But I'm getting some fun ideas as well. I've had this beautiful blue wall above our loveseat just begging to be dressed up a little bit. But with my new "stay at home" status, money is a bit tight for fun things like wall art. Then I discovered this site.

For about $15, I could make my own wall art. Well...everything was going swimmingly. I purchased the length of shelving and had them cut it down...except that a 1 foot by 10 foot piece of shelving really isn't 12 inches deep. It's like 11 1/2 inches. No worries...I just made sure they cut them square for me at Lowes.

Then to pick 9 pieces of scrapbook paper I liked. Except that there was a horrible shortage of beautiful papers in browns. So I bought a book of coordinated papers. All is well...would have been better on sale, but I was itching to get started.

I did have to trim my pages (because the boards weren't 12 inches square.) I trimmed them about 1/8" shorter because they stretched a bit with the homemade Mod Podge. (You can find that yourself on Pinterest...lots of good recipes out there.)

Now...the step that really threw me off was the part about using distressing ink on the edges. That was just a spectacular Pinterest fail. ( pictures.)

So I bought ANOTHER book of coordinated scrapbook paper (Wal Mart, this time...quite a bit cheaper), scraped all the other papers off and started over. Without the distressing ink.

Before I glued them on the boards the second time, I laid everything out so I could decide which paper went where.

Once the glue was dry, my handy husband put hangers on the back. I marked my wall with a level and carpenter's square (I'm so proud of how well I can use tools!) And hung my finished blocks.

I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Second Grade

Good morning, Sunshine!

Not quite ready to face the day.

A beautiful young lady in her beautiful new clothes.

All smiles and ready to go.

Skipping the last block to school.

With Mrs. Nichelson, her new teacher.

Tale of a Sale

Last month, while we were in Oregon, my parents coordinated the most enormous yard sale to help fund our adoption. And not to discredit the insane amount of work they did, God had a few strings to pull in the process as well.
It took 3 days to set up and price merchandise on 23 tables, a garage full of electronics, and a tent full of furniture.

  My dad hung artwork all over the side of the house.

Dayna sold brownies, Red Vines, popcorn and drinks.

It took 3 days to sell a great majority of the products on the tables. (When we packed up to donate the leftovers, I think we had it down to about 4 tables.)

When all was said and done, almost 10% of our total need was raised.

I wish there was enough room to share the blessings that rained on our family during this long week, but I'll try to hit the highlights.

  • A woman from my parents' church called two weeks before the sale. Her family loves adoption, and she had recently lost her mother. Faced with the overwhelming task of going through her mother's things, she felt led by God to donate the bulk of her mom's possessions to help our family. We had 5 truckloads of furniture, dishes, and antiques...and met a wonderful family in the process.
  • The neighbors across the street held a lemonade stand for two days. At the end of the second day, the girls came across the street and donated all of their proceeds.
  • People were daily bringing donations of more goods to add to the sale.
  • Two of my cyber friends brought their children to help with the sale on Saturday. We weren't even able to be there that day because of my high school reunion. I've had the privilege of briefly meeting one of these friends face-to-face...the other will have to wait until I'm in Oregon again.
  • I have a list of at least 26 families who gave above and beyond to help make this sale work.
I feel so incredibly blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First Day...

Last winter, things were changing fast and my heart was scrambling to keep up. On a day I had to say more goodbyes than a person should ever have to say, this song came on the radio. I honestly couldn't tell you what any of the words to the song were except these: "This is the first day of the rest of your're gonna be alright."

Well, today is another first day. I'm not going back to work today...many of my former colleagues will spend the day sitting in meetings, greeting friends they haven't seen all summer, putting up bulletin boards and planning out their year.

Me...I'll be going out to breakfast with a dear friend and celebrating God's goodness in my life. I honestly can't say that I miss going back to school today. There's some magic to the whole "back to school" routine...but my heart really just needs some time off this year.

I'm a little anxious about the finances, but I know God will provide. I found out yesterday that I probably won't be subbing in that district until October, which means no paychecks until November. The substitute orientation that was supposed to happen in August won't happen until late September (not for everyone...just for teachers on leave of absence.) And while part of me wants to feel cheated yet again, I'm trying to trust God's timing on this one.

So here we go. For the first time since 1979, on the first day of school, I won't be there.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What Can I Say?

While snuggling in bed:

Piggies are nice.
Piggies are sweet.
Piggies are tasty
And good to eat.

Thanks, Dayna. I'm still not going to start eating pork. (And thanks, Mom...I just saw the article of Aunt Sharon on the slaughter floor of the pork plant in Madison...the very reason I don't eat pork.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Welcome Home

After a heavenly 3 1/2 week vacation, enjoying temperatures in the mid 70s, it was very hard to come home to this:

And that was just the indoor temperature.

Yup, our air conditioning was out. My candles were melted and the fish tank was registering over 84 degrees. Poor fishies.

So when we wanted nothing more than to drop into our own beds, we threw yet more clothes into a suitcase and headed west stay with a friend in Lincoln. The fears were flying: how much will this cost? how soon can they fix it? I only have one paycheck left...we need to save it and not spend it on an air conditioner.

Please God...

Well...we contacted three different companies and one made it out this afternoon. After an hour and a half of work and a small part replaced, we are about $100 poorer and the house is slowly cooling down again.

Thanks, God!

Now...what do we do about the city pool that's closed today?